Former New York Giants CB DeAndre Baker is Exactly Chiefs GM Brett Veach's Type
The Kansas City Chiefs are expected to sign former New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker, and if you know anything about Chiefs general manager Brett Veach, that should come as no surprise.
Baker was a highly touted prospect and a high draft pick who was looking for a second chance in a new place. Veach has a type, and that's it.
Since he became the general manager of the Chiefs, Veach has been on the lookout for low-risk reclamation projects. Veach seems to love acquiring players with high draft pick pedigrees to see if the Chiefs can get more out of them than their previous team could.
Veach's first moves in this mold came in August 2017, just two months after he assumed the role of Chiefs general manager. Veach orchestrated two trades for offensive lineman Cameron Erving, the No. 19 pick in the 2015 draft, and linebacker Reggie Ragland, the No. 41 pick in the 2016 draft. Both players never found footing with the teams that drafted them, either due to poor play, in Erving's case, or no longer fitting their team's scheme, which left Ragland out of position.
The two players gave mixed performances on the Chiefs.
Erving was definitely the worse result of the two. While he played fine at guard in 2017 and earned an extension due to his play, Erving was forced to play tackle in 2019 due to an injury to left tackle Eric Fisher, and he was an unmitigated disaster.
Ragland was a good role player for the Chiefs in his stint with the team. He was a contributor in the 2019 Chiefs' Super Bowl run as a good early-down run stuffer. While he never really played up to the billing of his early second-round draft slot, that was okay for the Chiefs because they acquired him at a more reasonable value: a future fourth-round pick.
In 2018, Veach didn’t have too many tries at reclamation projects. This was the offseason Veach signed wide receiver Sammy Watkins in free agency, however, and one could argue that the basis of this signing was more about Watkins’ pedigree and talent rather than production. This is a higher-stakes version of Veach’s affinity for players who were former high-round draft picks, as in most other cases there is very little money involved so the risk is much lower.
Later in 2018, Veach took another swing at a former first-round wide receiver when the Chiefs signed Kelvin Benjamin late in the season. The move was noteworthy at the time and grabbed some media attention, but Benjamin ended his Chiefs run with only two receptions for 26 yards in three games.
The Benjamin signing is a reminder of the frequent reality of these low-risk signings of players that have the pedigree but lack the production. There is a reason their former teams are moving on from them despite the draft capital invested in the player. However, due to the low risk, it’s almost always worth a try, and Veach proved that trying can yield good results in 2019 with the acquisition of defensive end Emmanual Ogbah.
The Chiefs' safety room was crowded in 2019 due to Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill being the presumed starters and Daniel Sorensen behind them, so Eric Murray was an odd man out. Instead of cutting him, Veach decided to shop him around and found his old boss, then-Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey. Veach sent Murray to the Browns, as Dorsey had drafted him back in 2016, and received Ogbah back in the trade, a former No. 32 overall pick who didn’t quite live up to expectations in Cleveland. Ogbah’s contract was cheap, the risk was low, and it paid off in 2019. Ogbah had a great first half of the year recording 5.5 sacks, 32 tackles, and 6 tackles for loss in rotational play at defensive end for the Chiefs. His stint with the team was only soured by an unfortunate injury that forced him to miss the rest of the year.
The silver lining about the Ogbah trade is that not only did the Chiefs get good production out of him while he was on the team, but when the Chiefs let Ogbah walk in the 2020 free agency period, the Miami Dolphins gave him good money to head to Miami. This contract should now net the Chiefs a fifth-round compensatory pick in the 2021 draft. This trade for a player with pre-draft pedigree should count as a win for Veach.
Veach also added another former first-round pick to the roster in 2019, though it didn’t work out quite as well. Veach traded a sixth-round pick to the New York Jets for former No. 20 overall pick Darron Lee. Even with the Chiefs' horrendous situation at linebacker in 2019, Lee barely saw the field and was pretty ineffective when he did. Even still, for a sixth-round pick, the gamble was worth it.
So here we are again, watching Brett Veach take in a player with a high-round draft pick pedigree, hoping the talent and skills he showed in college will come to fruition with the Chiefs.
Baker is a more unique case than Veach's other low-risk gambles due to the bizarre circumstances surrounding his departure from the Giants, but the cloth is cut in pretty much the same way as the other players Veach brought in based on their collegiate tape. With Baker, Veach got yet another former first-round talent at a bargain price, just as he has done so many other times as general manager of the Chiefs.